For those needing fast clean text, the simple mono laser has had plenty to offer in recent years. But what if, while the majority of your needs may centre around words, every now again you feel the urge to print in full colour? Colour lasers are usually still rather expensive, while buying an inkjet in addition to a mono laser could require a rather large desk.
Oki isn't a company known for its bargain basement pricing strategy, but here it's produced an extremely affordable laser in the Oki C110 that concentrates on strong text capabilities, but that can also run off a few colour prints where the need arises.
To say that the Oki C110 is a no-frills model is to put it rather mildly. The old-fashioned casing and rough-edged paper trays look distinctly out of place compared to the fine curves and smooth lines of many of today's printers. Initially, we were convinced that the output tray of the Oki C110 was either upside down or back to front, while the input tray felt only half-finished. However, they do the job very admirably.
The input tray of the Oki C110 can take up to 200 sheets, which isn't at all bad for a cheap laser - and puts many an inkjet to shame. The printer had an annoying habit of not always fully propelling printed sheets into the output tray.
Despite our reservations, though, this never caused any paper jams. More of a problem was the Oki C110's tendency to set the paper size to Letter as default - if this wasn't checked and changed, A4 print jobs seemed to be proceeding at first, only for the printer to start flailing after the second sheet.
Once we were aware of this, though, the Oki C110 carried out its duties reliably - even if it isn't the quietest of printers, producing a vaguely annoying siren effect while in operation.
This Oki C110 model comes only with USB 2.0, although an enhanced model, the Oki C130, costing around an extra £60, offers Ethernet support, duplex facilities (for automatically printing to both sides of the paper), and the option of upgrading the paper input from 200 to 700 sheets.
We haven't tested this model, so obviously can't comment on exactly how good it is (although we'd probably be safe in assuming that its print speed and quality isn't inferior to the Oki C110's), but the C130 would seem to make sense to anyone needing network support.
Oki has spent plenty of time ensuring that the Oki C110's text capabilities are up to scratch. The text isn't as dark as on some lasers, but neither is it at all faint, while the characters are generally very cleanly defined. And even at the top resolution, the Oki C110 churns out pages at a very creditable 15.8 pages per minute. This doesn't make it amazingly quick for a laser, but it's by no means the slowest we've seen, and few, if any, inkjets could get even close to such speed in their high-quality mode.
As a text printer, then, the Oki C110 is excellent for the money. It's not quite so impressive as a colour model, although the palette is still reasonably realistic - if just a touch light in places - and compares well with many a printer. At 2.5 pages per minute it's very slow for a laser but, again, few inkjets can match such a performance in their highest quality mode.
Running costs of the Oki C110 aren't amazingly low, but 2-2.5p for a page of mono (around 1p more for colour) still makes this a reasonably affordable printer to run - particularly compared to the typical inkjet.
Those in the market for a colour laser probably won’t drop their sights to the Oki C110, but as an alternative to an inkjet it makes an incredible amount of sense. Fast and capable of high-quality print that comfortably outclasses almost all inkjets, it’s excellent for text work. And the Oki C110's colour output is, while a bit slow, quite good enough for most tasks. Those who do lots of photo printing might want to look elsewhere, but for the general purpose user who can look past the C110’s lack of physical flair, this is an excellent model.